In the final home game of the season, the Swans slumped to a 1-0 stoppage time defeat, courtesy of a bizarre goal by Southampton substitute Rickie Lambert. Fortunately, there was also good news as our rivals Cardiff City aka “the Scum” lost their Premier League status after just one season, following a 3-0 defeat at Newcastle United.
Manager Garry Monk made just one change to the team that blitzed Aston Villa last Saturday, with Dutchman Dwight Tiendalli replacing the injured Angel Rangel. There was a place on the bench once again for young midfielder Jay Fulton, who made his home debut last time out.
Southampton came into the game in eighth place in the Premier League, with a very respectable 52 points. Argentinian Manager Mauricio Pochettino elected to make just one change from the side that beat Everton 2-0 at home last weekend, with Morgan Schneiderlin coming in for England striker Rickie Lambert, who dropped to the bench.
Despite, two successive victories prior to this match for the Swans, it was the visitors that started the game more brightly as they took control of the ball in midfield and passed it with ease (which it what we usually do). However, it was still the Swans that had the best of the early chances and could easily have been two up in the first 15 minutes.
First striker Wilfried Bony was presented with the ball after a mistake by the Saints defence. Strangely, rather than choosing to turn and shoot, Big Wilf laid the ball off to Pablo Hernandez, whose firm drive was well saved by goalkeeper Artur Boruc. The rebound fell to Jonathan Guzman, who subsequently skied the ball over the bar when he should have at least hit the target.
Then, Jonjo Shelvey hit a decent cross into the Southampton box, which was met by Bony who had out foxed his marker. He met the cross well, only to see it go narrowly past the post.
With the Swans failing to take their opportunities, Mauricio Pochettino’s side began to turn the screw and demonstrated why they have spent the season in the top half of the table. Impressive Southampton centre back Dejan Lovren went close with a free kick on the edge of the area that went narrowly over, hitting the top of the Swansea net. Then in the 33rd minute, 18 year old striker Sam Gallagher made use of his height to win the aerial battle with the home defence and head just over the bar.
The striker’s miss seemed to jolt the Swans briefly back into action and seconds later Wilfried Bony burst into the Southampton box only to hit his shot wide, with just Boruc to beat.
After the break, it was again the away side that had the bulk of possession as the Swans seemed happy with the fact that their Premier League status was secure. Southampton full backs Luke Shaw and Nathaniel Clyne, both quality players I might add, seemed to have far too much room and time and frequently joined the attack.
However, despite having the lion’s share of possession, the Saints like the Swans enjoyed few clear cut chances in the second half as both goalkeepers only really had to deal with long range shots.
With the game at 0-0 and heading into added time, the Swans hit the self-destruct button. Captain Ashley Williams, who up to this point had enjoyed a decent game at the heart of the Swans defence alongside Jordi Amat was the culprit. For some strange reason, Ash hooked the ball towards his own goal and the alert Lambert beat the Swansea Skipper and goalkeeper Michel Vorm to the ball. What Vorm was doing, I do not know, as he really should have been more decisive and put his fist through the ball. It looked like an own goal, however Lambert was credited with the goal, having had the final touch off his back.
To sum the game up, it was a typical end of season affair. Southampton are a good side and on balance deserved to win, with possession stats of over 60%. They are an example to many other clubs in the League in that they play passing football and have a side filled with home grown players. Their fans also travel in good numbers and support their side well.
I would not understand the formation we chose to play today, with Monk appearing to go for a 4-3-1-2 as he did against Aston Villa last weekend. We seemed to lack vital width and playing Wayne Routledge up front with Bony nullified his best qualities which are to out run the full backs and play crosses in for Wilf to attack.
So it’s one game left, away to Sunderland next Sunday. It would be nice to get at least a draw and hit the 40 points mark, but on this display it doesn’t look likely. Anyway, as always up the Swans!
The teams and player marks (out of 10):
Swansea City: Vorm 5, Tiendalli 5 (Taylor 5), Davies 6, Amat 7, Williams 7, Britton 6, De Guzman 5 (Dyer 5), Shelvey 5, Hernandez 6 (Emnes 5), Routledge 5, Bony 5. Unused substitutes: Tremmel, Bartley, Fulton, Vazquez.
Swans’ man of the match: Despite his moment of madness at the end, Ashley Williams, though others will probably take a different view!
Southampton: Boruc 7, Clyne 7, Shaw 7, Wanyama 7, Fonte 7, Lovren 8, Schneiderlin 7, Davis 7, Cork 7 (Reed NA), Gallagher 6 (Ward-Prowse 6), Lallana 6 (Lambert 6). Unused substitutes: Do Prado, Chambers, Gazzaniga, Hooiveld.
Southampton man of the match: Dejan Lovren
Scorers: Rickie Lambert
Possession stats: Swansea 38% Southampton 62%.
The match referee: Anthony Taylor 6. Taylor was last in charge of the Swans when he replaced Chris Foy in our game at Newcastle two weeks ago, after Foy broken in nose in the first half. My impression of Taylor (who I still maintain is really Sally Webster’s new bloke in Coronation Street) changed big time after he gave a stoppage time penalty when Marvellous Marvin Emnes was felled in the box. Unfortunately, in this game, Taylor was back to his erratic self. He wasn’t terrible but some of his decisions still leave the more discerning fan a bit confused to say the least! He handed out 2 yellows, with Hernandez and Fonte the unlucky punters.
Attendance: 20,682, including a couple of thousand from Southampton.
This article was written by the Big Match Pundit